Located on a quiet, shaded, residential street adjacent to Culver City in Los Angeles, California, the school environment is primarily outdoors. Challenging, multipurpose items and play structures provide for adventure, fantasy play and experimentation. The school has animals, cooking and pottery facilities, arts and crafts areas, sand boxes and climbing trees. Children have open access to work spaces, books, cozy corners and hide-a-ways throughout the indoor and outdoor environment.
A child-centered or child-directed curriculum is based on the idea that a child’s education is best served by the child’s own mastering of the process of learning. We typically see that the child becomes self-motivated to acquire skills as tools for learning and interacting with a broader world. The joy of learning is bound up in the joy of doing.
Much like students at Britain’s Summerhill School, children at Play Mountain Place can choose from both student led activities and teacher-offered curriculum without being required to participate in either. A child’s inner pace of both cognitive, social and emotional development is honored. Trust is given to his or her choices. Children are not pressured — whether it is about transitioning out of diapers, sharing a toy or learning to read. By allowing a wide range of choices and behaviors, experiential learning is fostered. Read more here.
Morning Meeting is an important time of the day at Play Mountain Place. There are Morning Meetings in each of the age groups, so it is a consistent structure in the lives of the children throughout their years at PMP. The format for Morning Meeting includes three main categories to Morning Meeting: Problems, Plans and Sharings. In the Problem part of the meeting, everyone is encouraged to talk about problems they have in the group setting building interdependence, empathy and insight with each other. Next, ideas for activities are presented, what we call our Plans part of the meeting. Plans for study, special exploration, skill development and for play are given equally serious respect and consideration. The Sharing part of the meeting is the part where children bring or a personal sharing to the group. This can be an item, like a shell they found at the beach, a special toy, or a book or what often gets called a "talking sharing" which may be about a trip they took, something they saw, or read, or experienced that they want to share with the group.
Teachers use non-authoritarian methods for assisting children in the conflict resolution process and in helping them come to their own solutions to problems. A problem between children presents a teachable moment and an opportunity to experience both freedom and responsibility. Attention to one’s own feelings, learning to accept others feelings and limits, and learning to tolerate differences and resolve conflicts in a way in which everyone is heard and comes to agreement, are the keys to this dimension of education at Play Mountain Place.
Children are encouraged to express all of their feelings at Play Mountain Place, including their anger. During times of intense emotion, people sometimes express feelings in hurtful ways, such as kicking, hitting, biting, punching, name-calling, and more. When children's feelings are being expressed in ways that are physically or emotionally hurtful to others, teachers support and encourage children to redirect that expression to safer outlets like hitting pillows, having pillow fights, throwing balls at targets or making drawings of angry faces, and much more. These Moosh Activities help children release the intense emotions and be ready to work out the problem with their friends.
Play Mountain Place has a rich history. With the school now over 60 years old, many children who were once students here have returned as parents, or have stayed involved with the school in some way. Also, as you will see from the photos, we have been very consistent in our commitment to a humanistic, student-driven philosophy.
Play Mountain Place all-school events help us gather throughout the year to build community, celebrate, have fun, and educate. Some events are held every year including the Art Show, the Party & Auction, the Spring Bazaar, Multicultural Celebration, and Commencement.
Play Mountain Place is a part of a much larger movement in education, the "education revolution." Our commitment to make student-centered education available here in Los Angeles is echoed around the world. We are also committed to our work to help parents parent peacefully. We often host people from our larger community, and sometimes, we travel to other schools and conferences that share our commitment.
Visitor Day Tour Dates have been set! If you are a prospective parent and would like to come on a tour to consider Play Mountain Place for your child, please give us a call and we can set you up on a tour! We are taking reservations now at 323-870-4381.